The Fiddler on the Roof

Caraboska's Theoblog

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Turks, Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics...

Praise the Lord

This is a reply to a comment on this blog post.

Yeah, it is pretty weird that Turkish culture is quite that conservative. Oddly, it is probably more tolerable for a Turkish woman to comment on a Turkish man’s Facebook page. It’s the foreign woman who will have to keep quite that low a profile. It seems there’s an element of xenophobia there. But I have a long-standing e-friendship with a Turkish man and so everything I wrote to you about Turkey here stems in some way from personal experience.

The thing about ahadith is that most if not all of the talking between genders seems to concern discussions of some religious concept, or what the proper religious view of some particular situation is, etc. That is permissible even among the most traditional types I have encountered. It’s ‘chit chat’ – in other words, conversation that does not have a particular aim – which the traditionalists seem to find problematic.

The Southern Baptist Church… is not as good an example as I thought. I had forgotten about the congregational nature of Baptist church government. Items 3 and 4 here ( address in some measure the variety of views on the church discipline aspect of divorce, as well as this resolution ( Basically, there is a good deal more leeway for individual congregations to interpret the matter of divorce than there would be in, say, a Presbyterian church. So, yeah, I can see why you are confused.

So let me see… Yes. The PCA is indeed a lot stricter. See here ( – in particular ch. XXIV pts. 3, 5-6. The rule is that only adultery or irremediable desertion are considered grounds for divorce with right to remarriage. Also that one may only marry a person identifying as Christian whose beliefs are materially consistent with those of that church’s confession of faith.

The Roman Catholic Church is an interesting case. I think it is possible to come to a view that is largely materially consistent with the Roman Catholic view just from reading the Bible. Basically, what happens there is you take that passage I cited from Genesis 2:24 as the definition of marriage, and view any sexual relationship that deviates from that – even if it is called by the name of marriage – as essentially non-marital. And then you will indeed come up with a huge list of possible reasons that a given relationship could be invalid as a marriage. So it is not necessary to adhere to any tradition at all in order to come to this kind of a view.

The place where tradition comes in is that the Roman Catholic Church has its official list, which could in some ways differ from the one that would be derived only from Scripture (e.g. the extent to which children are part of the material of the marriage, or what effect the fact of a man’s having been ordained to the priesthood has on his ability to contract a valid marriage) and if you are a member of that church then you have to have the church authorities look at your situation in light of that list and evaluate whether your marriage is really a marriage – and if not, then give you an annulment. And here, indeed, a Biblical view countenancing annulment as a concept would stop. There is no Biblical mandate for the Roman Catholic *mechanism* for annulment.

The other difference between a Biblical view countenancing annulment and the Roman Catholic practice of it is that the Biblical view is likely to be much more restrictive *before the fact* about whether it is permissible to enter the marriage in the first place. It will carefully evaluate the parties’ relationship with God, with their parents, as well as their willingness and ability to reckon with their partner in the manner that will be required of them when they marry, and their understanding of the binding nature of the commitment required.

It will carefully screen the relationship for signs that it is being contracted on the basis of feelings – or indeed, anything else besides God. It will cover every possible pitfall. And only after that get married. It can lead to a situation where the parties have known each other for several years and have waited for the intense feelings to die down and be replaced by something more enduring before they even embark on a marriage. And all this without any non-platonic behavior.

I think we can divide up the Islamic world in a similar manner to the way I have divided up the Christian world:

1. Qur’an only. Qur’anists take this view and it is they whom I would term ‘Scriptural Muslims’

2. Qur’an, Sunnah and ahadith. When I say ‘traditional Muslims’, I am referring to adherents of this view.

3. Qur’an, Sunnah, ahadith and other sources. There are a lot of possibilities here. Many but not all of them are culturally dictated. And the results can range from extremely conservative (a la Saudi Arabia) to just plain humanist.

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PS: The captcha was "putrefying gorstr". Lol.

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